During grades 1 through 3, you won’t see dramatic changes in your child’s motor skills because this is a period of refinement, when coordination improves and fine motor skills are sharpened. But you will notice remarkable changes in social and thinking skills. Your child is now building on the base of skills developed during early childhood and moving toward greater independence, both intellectually and emotionally.

Here are some of the milestones you can expect of your 8-year-old:

Motor development

  • finger control is quite refined
  • stamina increases; can run and swim further

Language and thinking development

  • can converse at an almost adult level
  • reading may be a major interest
  • seeks to understand the reasons for things
  • begins to feel competent in skills and have preferences for some activities and subjects
  • thinking is organized and logical
  • begins to recognize concept of reversibility (4+2=6 and 6-2=4)

Social and emotional development

  • has strong need for love and understanding, especially from mother
  • can be helpful, cheerful, and pleasant as well as rude, bossy, and selfish
  • may be quite sensitive and overly dramatic
  • emotions change quickly
  • impatient; finds waiting for special events torturous
  • makes friends easily; develops close friends of same sex
  • favors group play, clubs, and team sports; wants to feel part of a group
  • more influenced by peer pressure
  • can be obsessed with, and motivated by money

Tips for parenting an 8-year-old

At 8, your child has a strong need to “belong.”

  • Talk to your child about peer pressure.
  • Listen and discuss his concerns about friends and school performance.
  • Take advantage of his interest in money to teach about costs and the importance of saving toward a goal.
  • Develop moral why some things are right or wrong.
  • Recognize your child’s need for privacy and secrets. Give him a locking drawer or box.

And finally…

Remember that although the milestones mentioned here are typical, children pass through these stages at their own pace. Some will be earlier, some a little later. Discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s development with her pediatrician or teacher.